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145 Days On, No Word On Restoring Internet In Kashmir; Students, Businesses Worst Sufferers

The digital blackout in Kashmir completed 145 days on Friday with no sign of restoration of the services in near future.

145 Days On, No Word On Restoring Internet In Kashmir; Students, Businesses Worst Sufferers
Security personnel stand guard at a check point during restrictions, after Centre abrogated Article 370 and divided Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories, in Srinagar.
145 Days On, No Word On Restoring Internet In Kashmir; Students, Businesses Worst Sufferers
outlookindia.com
2019-12-27T20:05:00+05:30

There is no word on when internet services will be restored in Kashmir, where the blackout has completed 145 days, officials said on Friday even as mobile internet facility was resumed in Ladakh's Kargil district.

Internet services were suspended on August 5, the day the Centre announced nullification of Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories -- Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

There is no word on when internet services will be restored in the Valley, the officials said.

BJP general secretary Ram Madhav on Thursday had said broadband internet facilities were being restored in Kashmir in a phased manner and the local administration will restore the broadband services in more sectors after a security review.

"The broadband internet services are being restored in a phased manner. The facilities have been restored to the hotels," he had told reporters in Srinagar.

In the Valley, the business community and students are the worst sufferers due to the internet shutdown.

"Almost every paperwork related to business is now to be done online. Although the government has set up facilitation centres at various places, these are not enough. For example, I have to shut my shop for a day to be able to give GST returns. It is not only cumbersome but humiliating as well, said Farooq Ahmad Khan, a businessman.

Hundreds of students, who aspire to appear in various competitive examinations, have to make frequent visits to the internet kiosks set up in offices of deputy commissioners of various districts and some educational institutions.

"We have no information regarding what all documents we have to keep with us. After waiting for the turn for hours, we are turned back if something is missing," said Maleeha Aijaz, who is preparing to write NEET exams. 

Basit Shafi, another student, said the number of kiosks was not enough to cater to a huge number of students and job aspirants who have to fill the forms online.

"More than 70,000 students are expected to appear in various examinations. Do you think a dozen-odd internet stations are enough?" Shafi asked. 

Even normal banking operations have been severely hit and people have to visit their respective branches for paying utility bills which they would otherwise pay online.

"The number of utility bills we used to handle had dropped significantly as people would pay these online. But now everyone has to come to the bank,  resulting in long queues, which has affected our productivity also," an employee of the Jammu and Kashmir Bank said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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